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Did an Ancient Virus ‘Infect’ Some People With Drug Addiction?

Researchers say it’s possible that some people may be more prone to drug addiction if they carry an ancient retrovirus called HK2 in their genome. Not all people have HK2 viruses in them, but according to Hilltop Monitor, a new study found that people who inject drugs were found to more frequently have it. They commented that HK2 manipulates surrounding genes and triggers addictive behaviors, and that understanding how this works will be important for developing pharmacological solutions to addiction.

It’s exciting that scientists have found evidence of an ancient virus that could be triggering some people’s drug addictions, but at the same time it’s disheartening to think that the discovery may pave the way for more drug development. It reminds me of how Purdue Pharma — maker of the opioid OxyContin — has used what it knows about how opioids work in the brain to patent the treatment for addiction to their own drug.

An estimated 202,600 Americans died from opioid overdoses between 2002 and 2015, and drug overdoses are now the leading cause of death among Americans under the age of 50. Even as we edge toward 2019, the death toll continues to rise at staggering numbers, and it seems ridiculous that instead of treating the reason behind drug addiction, we’re still trying to create new drugs to counter old drugs’ side effects.

Most people who have valid prescriptions for opioids are taking for pain, so it seems self-defeating to add drug antidotes to drug addictions when what we should be doing is finding nondrug solutions for pain, especially since the average U.S. adult regularly takes four different medications. Some take as many 20 a day, and some of those pills are often to counteract bad side effects from other pills. It’s dizzying circle that just seems never-ending.

If you have chronic pain of any kind, please understand that there are many safe and effective alternatives to prescription and even over-the-counter painkillers, for example:

  • Astaxanthin — One of the most effective oil-soluble antioxidants known, astaxanthin has very potent anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Ginger — This herb is anti-inflammatory and offers pain relief and stomach-settling properties.
  • Curcumin — Curcumin is the primary therapeutic compound identified in the spice turmeric. In a study of osteoarthritis patients, those who added only 200 milligrams of curcumin a day to their treatment plan had reduced pain and increased mobility.
  • Boswellia — this herb contains powerful anti-inflammatory properties, which have been prized for thousands of years. This is one of my personal favorites, as I have seen it work well with many rheumatoid arthritis patients.
  • Bromelain — This protein-digesting enzyme, found in pineapples, is a natural anti-inflammatory.
  • Cetyl Myristoleate (CMO) — This oil, found in fish and dairy butter, acts as a "joint lubricant" and an anti-inflammatory.
  • Evening Primrose, Black Currant and Borage Oils — These contain the fatty acid gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), which is useful for treating arthritic pain.
  • Cayenne Cream — Also called capsaicin cream, this spice comes from dried hot peppers. It alleviates pain by depleting the body's supply of substance P, a chemical component of nerve cells that transmit pain signals to your brain.
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